Stannis stood by the open window, pretending that he was simply taking the air and not watching the road. The Greyjoys had been thoroughly put down, and Stannis and his men presently occupied Hammerhorn to keep Great Wyk under the thumb of the Iron Throne. Simply existing here as a reminder of his brother's power did not do much to occupy his time, however. The only true benefit Stannis could see was that it would allow time for his hand to heal.
He looked down at it now, perturbed again at his own carelessness. During the taking of the island, he had burned it on a firepot, like a green boy in his first siege. Now, a week later, the pain was a mild irritation, the worst of it being that he was rendered near an invalid by his inability to use his right hand for more than the most cursory activity.
He glanced out the window again. Hammerhorn was as far inland as one could get on the Iron Islands and it meant he could not watch the harbor for the return of Ser Davos' ship, would need to wait for him to ride through the gates. Once again, Stannis tried to tell himself that his concern for the smuggler was simply over whether he had successfully delivered word to Robert that Great Wyk was secure. It was certainly not over whether something had waylaid him. Something such as a rogue Ironman hoping to wreak vengeance upon a ship flying royal banners.
He looked around his bedchamber for some way to busy himself and caught a glimpse of himself in the looking-glass. He needed a shave. The combination of his burned hand and his reluctance to be shaved by anyone but his barber at Dragonstone had turned the situation dire. He rubbed his beard, scowling at the roughness. The day would soon come when he was in danger of being confused for Robert.
It would do nicely for the distraction he sought. He called for hot water and set to work; it would be slow going with his injury, but that would occupy more time. The problem came when it was time to grip the razor. His fingers would curl around the handle, but the throbbing in them meant he could not bear it for more than a few strokes before he was forced to let go.
A knock on the door interrupted his concentration and red bloomed in the looking-glass. He swore. "Who is it?" he growled, slapping his other hand to his cheek to stem the flow of blood.
"Davos Seaworth, my lord."
Stannis restrained himself from muttering another oath. The last thing he needed was for Ser Davos to see him unable even to take care of himself.
"My lord?" the voice came again, insistent through the thick oak door. "Is everything all right?"
"Come in," Stannis said at last, dropping the razor to the washstand and reaching for a towel. Davos was at his side in an instant.
"My lord, are you all right?" His eyes were filled with concern and Stannis pulled his gaze away, unable to hold them too long.
"Yes," Stannis said, though he patently wasn't. Brown eyes flicked between Stannis' face, his reddened hand, and the mess between them. He obviously had not been convincing. At least it had been only a slight nick.
"Did you cut your hand, my lord?"
"No." Stannis reluctantly related the story of how he had come to injure it. Davos listened calmly, without judgment, and Stannis was grateful for it.
"Would you like me to help you, my lord?" he asked, when Stannis had finished.
That was not what he had expected to hear. Stannis swallowed hard. I would like it too well. Surely Davos could see that by the way his ears were burning. But he did not seem to notice. He was back at the washstand; when he next turned round, he was mixing up soap, without waiting for an answer. Realization hit Stannis with a shudder. Davos actually intended to shave him.
"You need not do this," he said, trying to keep the trembling from his voice. "I will have the barber."
"I thought you said you did not trust any of them not to cut your throat?" Davos smiled. "Or do you not trust me, my lord?"
Stannis looked away. "You should not have to do this. You are a knight, not a servant."
"Isn't it easier, my lord, to let me do it, rather than waiting for someone to come? I can give you my report in the meantime."
Stannis frowned. Davos knew full well Stannis would never allow the king's orders for his Master of Ships to be heard while anyone else was in the room, much less a barber in service to House Goodbrother. "Go ahead," he said at last.
He sat down, tucked the towel into his shirt, and tilted his head back. Perhaps it would not be so bad if it were over with quickly. He would not shave again until his hand was healed, or until he was back on Dragonstone.
Davos' soapy hands moved vigorously over his heavily-stubbled cheeks. "Your brother was pleased with your victory, my lord."
"I am sure he said just that."
Davos smiled, lathering beneath Stannis' chin. "That was the approximate sentiment, my lord. It has been several days, and my memory is not what it perhaps was in my youth."
Davos was now close enough that Stannis could see that there was no hint of gray in his beard. He spread the soap down Stannis' neck, the stumps of his shortened fingers feeling strange but not unpleasant. Then, they were gone.
"He said you must hold Great Wyk until he is sure they will all remain kneeling." Davos had taken up the strop now, and Stannis heard no more of his report. All he could focus on was Davos' smooth, rhythmic movements, while trying to tamp down his anticipation of Davos coming close again. Seeing him with the razor had triggered a strange surge of heat in his belly that he could not dispel. He breathed deeply in through his nose and out through his mouth.
"That will make it easier, won't it, my lord?" Davos asked, coming back over to where Stannis sat, razor in hand.
"What?" He had not been paying a whit of attention, so focused had he been on not betraying the strange new dimension his proclivities had taken. Not just a man, but a man with a razor.
"Lord Arryn has written a letter." Davos' shortened fingers pressed gently into Stannis' hair, tilting his head to expose his cheek. "You can read what I could not remember."
"Aye," Stannis managed, as the razor descended.
Davos appeared to notice nothing. He did not hesitate as he scraped the razor across Stannis' skin. He could not know the turmoil that was raging inside him and Stannis would not allow himself to so much as shiver, even as Davos' fingers brushed his neck absently.
Davos did not speak, and Stannis could see what concentration he had. Each stroke was deliberate, and Stannis almost forgot to breathe. He had never enjoyed sitting passively while others tended to him, but he could not bear this for different reasons than dislike of others' hands on him. Davos' touch had a different effect entirely.
The tightness of his breeches was evidence of that. I should have kept the beard, he thought and shifted slightly.
Davos withdrew the blade at once. "Are you all right, my lord?"
"Perfectly," Stannis said through his teeth. Davos moved to the other side, allowing him a moment's breath, before he began his task again. Each deliberate stroke was one step closer to madness, as his erection grew.
Then, Davos' hand was tilting back his head and the razor was at his throat. Stannis' breath caught. Of course he had been shaved before, but he had certainly never been this tense during the experience.
"Hold still, my lord," Davos murmured, breath making Stannis' skin prickle. His thumb brushed Stannis' cheek like a lazy afterthought.
He could cut my throat, Stannis realized as the sensitive skin was exposed. Any man would who resented what I did to him. But not Davos. Even as I squirm, the blade does not slip.
Davos' hands remained steady, his gaze fixed on his task, bringing to mind sculptor more than barber. The rasp of the razor sent shivers through him, straight to his cock. He could not hide it now; Davos had only to look down to see how his favor was returned.
His mind was already ranging elsewhere, to what would be necessary after Davos had left. He would have to dismiss him soon, however much he longed for his company. But there was no way Stannis would be able to continue on without taking care of himself. He thought of how sweet it would be to take himself in hand. He would think of Davos, of course; he had, of late, and was past the point of caring for the wrongness of it. If anything, this afternoon would fuel his fantasies for a long time coming.
He opened his eyes. Davos was moving slowly over the last patch, taking care not to rush it in the ending, his left hand keeping the skin taut. His eyes were fixed on his task with such care Stannis could not bear it.
At last, Davos drew back and wiped the excess soap away with the towel.
"I think, my lord, that we are through." He paused, and Stannis was suddenly conscious once more of the hardness in his breeches. There was no way Davos had not noticed it. "Unless…" His eyes never left Stannis'. "Unless you have need of me for something else?"
Relief broke like a cool wave over him. He was giving him a chance to end this now. He trusted Davos would not breathe a word of his shame to anyone. That was the choice he should take, to send Davos away discreetly so that they would never need discuss it again.
He rose stiffly. "You may go if you wish," he said. "You must be tired from such a long journey."
Davos chuckled. "It was not so long as some I have taken. Some company, I have found, is as good or better than a rest."
Stannis' heart was pounding so loudly that it was a marvel Davos did not hear it. He moved as if underwater, wrestling with the decision to stop at every moment. If he did this, would he have tainted something? He desired Davos, it was certain, but would he lose Davos' valuable counsel if he gave in to this baser want?
Davos had closed the distance between them without his noticing. He brought his hand up to Stannis' jaw, then down his neck, making him shiver. "I am sorry it is not smoother, my lord."
"No matter," Stannis murmured, mouth dry. "I could have done no better."
And then their lips were together. Davos' beard was soft on Stannis' newly-bared skin and he wanted only to taste more of Davos, to feel more of him. He had kept his longing a secret for so long it hardly seemed real that Davos might share it. Hardly seemed it, but real it was.
The stumps of his fingers pressed to the back of Stannis' neck, guiding him into a deeper kiss. Some part of him urged him to slow down, that there was no reason to rush, but another, more insistent part of him, would not have stopped this for anything; there could be no sweeter prize than to hear Davos moan against his lips, to feel the trail of kisses from his mouth to his jaw. He could not even think of where they were bound, could only think of this moment—his fingers in Davos' hair, the warmth of his skin on Stannis'.
"Shall I bar the door, my lord?" Davos breathed in his ear. Even that made Stannis shudder. How has a common smuggler wrapped me around his finger so?
"It seems you must," he managed, and as soon as Davos left, he wished he hadn't. Better to be discovered than to lose that touch, even for a moment.
His breath was ragged as he watched Davos cross the room. The gratitude for the onions did not come close to explaining this, the obsession that had lasted all these years, that had warped him.
"Are you all right, my lord?" Davos asked as he came back over, a smile on his face.
No, Stannis nearly answered. For I want you in my bed.
A kiss silenced this line of thinking. As weak as he was, he could not stop it now. Davos' lips were on his again and he made a noise low in his throat, as he pulled Davos' shirt from his waistband. The man had always seemed lost in his clothes while dressed and now, without them, he could see how thin he was as he rested a hand on the angle of his hip.
He stood there, savoring it for a moment before Davos dropped to his knees and set to freeing his cock. He hissed from the rush of cool air, which was soon replaced by Davos' rough sailor's hands. He looked at Stannis, eyebrows raised in question, even while his thumb traced circles on the tip. "Shall we go on, my lord?"
Whatever blood that was not rushing to Stannis' cock rushed to his face. "No," he managed to choke out. "Yes. But I do not want you on your knees." He swallowed hard. "I want you on the bed."
Davos smiled and rose. "A fine idea," he said, and then he was back in Stannis' arms.
I would let him do anything to me he wanted, Stannis realized, the hairs on the back of his neck rising at the thought of it. All that had been forbidden before was now hovering before him, a distinct possibility. This might only be the first time; there might be others, more opportunities to explore the warmth of his skin, with its faint smell of the sea.
Davos' hands ranged further over his shoulders and his back, fingertips like fire making Stannis think he might never forget exactly where Davos had touched him. They did not speak, but Davos' small, contented sounds between kisses were more than enough; he would catalogue each little sigh and moan as well, in the event that he never got to hear them again.
The gentle nudge to his shoulder came as a surprise. Davos had said something to him before initiating everything else, but it was without words that he urged Stannis onto his side. This shiver of anticipation he did not suppress. He had decided that what Davos wanted would be what he wanted and this was exactly that.
After the desperation of their kisses before, Davos moved with tantalizing slowness now. His chest was pressed to Stannis' back, radiating warmth, and his cock was temptingly positioned against Stannis' arse, making him fight the urge to squirm so that it might slide between his thighs. Want pulsed within him.
It could not be more perfect than this, he thought, Davos' hand moving from his shoulder down his arm, his mouth tracing the shell of Stannis' ear. The movements of his hips were slow, too, almost lazy. Even his breath on the back of his neck was set to drive him mad; he had never imagined he could ever be made to come apart so thoroughly. Stannis wanted to push back desperately, until he was practically riding Davos' cock, but the hand on his shoulder stilled him.
"Not yet," Davos murmured. The words, simple as they were, sent desperate shivers down Stannis' spine so that he almost groaned aloud. Davos' hand was not done. Even as he moved between Stannis' thighs, it seemed he needed to touch every part of Stannis save his cock. There, the hand splayed on his hip that may well have been a brand, or on his chest, bracing Stannis against him. It was almost as if they were one, moving in synch as they were. If Davos' lips left marks on his shoulders or neck, he cared not, even if they could be seen when he was dressed. He cared only for this moment, for Davos' warmth all around him, seeming to be much bigger than the man really was.
"Stannis," Davos gasped in his ear and that was all the provocation he needed. He reached for Davos' hand and brought it down to his cock. After that, they were moving desperately, Davos thrusting faster between his thighs, his legs tangled with Stannis' more and more with each movement.
His hand pumped firm on his cock, keeping time with his thrusts and Stannis tried to fall into that pace, to find Davos' rhythm amongst their desperate gasps, the slap of their thighs, the creak of the bed strings.
Finally, he heard Davos' grunt behind him and reached around to seize his hips to prevent him from moving to take his release somewhere else. If they were at the point of rutting together, he was not too good to have Davos' seed on him, desired it as much as he'd desired anything. He tried to hold his own release at bay until Davos had finished, though the hand on Stannis' cock never stilled. He had wanted to stay in this moment forever, but at last his body betrayed him, and, he too, was shuddering, Davos' name escaping his lips as he spilled his release over their joined hands.
For what seemed a long while, they remained like that, tangled up in each other before Davos withdrew, leaving Stannis' back exposed to the cold. He turned, mouth open in case Davos was going for his clothes. But he was only returning with a towel.
"I am sorry, my lord," he said, as though he might have some power to keep the mess from what they had done.
Stannis grunted, as Davos cleaned him off, showing the same brisk care he had shown in the shaving that had started all of this. "Will you stay, Davos?"
Davos opened his mouth and Stannis wondered what foolish protest he was considering.
"Of course," he said finally, and tossing the towel aside, he slid back into the spot he'd just vacated. This time, Stannis turned so he could take Davos in his arms. This was just as pleasant, he decided, pressing one last kiss to his lips. And perhaps there were other pleasant things they could discover, if he was to stay here. After all, the Ironborn were said to be hard to tame. It might be a long time indeed before they could leave.